Dear Young People,
If you would listen, here is what I would tell you:
You will not always be in your 20s or 30s years of age. There will come a time when you will look back on these years and wonder where the years have gone, wish you had done so many things differently, and perhaps wallow in the consequences of choices you’ve made. I would tell you that you have the power and potential today to mitigate future regrets. You can build a life that will allow you to reminisce of days gone by with the satisfying sigh of a life well-lived.
If you would listen, I would tell you to use Godly wisdom in every decision that you make—to take your time and not be impulsive when it comes to making major decisions such as choosing a college or career, a spouse, a home, a car. Listen to those who have gone before you, those who were successful in their choices and those who were not. Ask questions. I would tell you not to place emphasis on how big, how expensive, or how “balling” a purchase may be, or how the purchase will boost your ratings in the image department. I would also tell you that your choice of a spouse can be a blessing or a curse. It is critically important that you and your spouse be equally yoked in all the critical areas, such as religious beliefs, values, sense of humor (yes, that is critically important) and that you are financially compatible. Conflict with money is one of the main reasons why couples divorce.
If you would listen, I would tell you that your worth is not tied up in your possessions or the lack thereof. You are God’s creation and that alone makes you perfectly whole and complete. Nothing you can put on your body, drive, or live in will make you anymore complete. I would ask you to ponder on the reason material things are important to you. It’s your life, but who are you living for? Imagine with me for a moment: If you could walk through life and no one would ever see your clothing, your home, or your car, would you make the same buying choices on your same income? Again, who are you living for?
If you would listen, I would tell you to avoid debt, especially the addiction to credit cards. Debt is an absolute dream thief. What are your goals? What is it that you aspire to do, places you desire to visit? What plans do you have to fund your child’s education? How do you plan to fund your retirement years? If you would listen, I would tell you that those things just don’t magically happen. If you have debt, simply because you cannot understand the difference between needs and wants, you are stealing from your future. Your income is your greatest source of building financial wealth that will allow you to meet all these goals. If a great portion of your income goes to paying off credit card bills, what do you have left to save or invest? If your child must take out student loans and join the ranks of those, maybe even yourself—suffering through student loans, you’ll have to ask yourself what role you contributed. Were those badass outfits, designer handbags, glorious vacations, or luxury cars worth the sacrifice of your child’s education or your retirement?
If you would listen, I would tell you to start saving and investing TODAY. Take advantage of the power of compounding interest that makes your money grow exponentially (if you want to learn about compounding interest, read my book, Money Management Wisdom for Millennials). If you would listen, I would tell you that most of the “retired” senior citizens working at McDonald’s, Walmart, or the local theater as an usher are not doing so just because. They are there because they were not financially prepared for their retirement years. In fact, a study by Global Atlantic Financial Group of 4,000 pre-retirees and retires revealed that their top three regrets were not saving enough money, relying too much on Social Security, and not paying off debt before retiring. If you would listen, I would tell you to start saving and investing as early as possible, yes—even in your 20s. My book mentions several options to help you start preparing early for what is sure to come.
If you would listen, I would tell you to not ignore the advice above. The biggest mistake young people make is not grasping the concept of time. In the Bible (CSB), James 4:14 tells us, Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Listen, statistically speaking, everyone gets an average of 80 years of life. Think of your life as a non-rechargeable battery. A new battery starts out at 100% capacity. As the power is used, life decreases to 50, 40, 30 percent, and eventually, to 0%. Your life is the same. If you are 25 years old, you have already used 31% of the life given to you. If you’re 35 years old, you’re down 44%. Think about that. You can’t run and plug into a charger. There is nothing you can do anything about the time you’ve spent.
The question is, what are you going to do with the time that’s remaining? How are you going to fill the 69% or 56 % left in your battery? There are so many choices. You can continue to live as if you have all the time in the world, piling on debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, dodging the bill collector, and stressing over impressing. Or, you can begin to build a better legacy for your loved ones by making better choices, learning to live within your means, and creating a plan to meet future goals.
If you would listen, I would tell you that God wants you to enjoy this life He gave you. He wants you to be happy today—living, loving, laughing, and creating experiences. You do not need to focus solely on the future, but you do need to plan for it. God wants you to be blessed with the desires of your heart. Material things certainly have their place in our lives–but He did not create you to chase and obsess over material things to the detriment of your or your family’s future and His purpose for your life. You will live your best life when you are walking in His purpose and in your calling. You will live your best life when you learn how to be better stewards of the resources loaned to you. You will live your best life when you begin to live with an eternal perspective. Seek Him first and all other things will be given to you.
If only you would listen.